Where are the case studies that matter?

Or at least, where are the social media case studies that matter to me. The reason I’m calling for this is that most of the cases I see or hear about aren’t always that usable to me. There are learnings in every case, but most of the time those examples have one or a few things in common that make them difficult for me to use. I need other cases, other than the ones people keep sharing at the moment, so where are those cases that are:

  • NOT from an online business: Zappos is the first that comes to mind. If you’re in e-business it’s also easier to create and measure a valid social online presence. There’s an immediate link with your business to be made online, there’s an immediate link to be made with sales online, that’s not the case for everyone.
  • NOT from a tech company: Microsoft, DELL, … I’ve worked for Microsoft myself and even 4-5 years ago there were about 5.000 bloggers active within the company. The company was actually active in social media before The Company was active in social media (if you know what I mean). You got a whole bunch of tech savvy people together, I can tell you from my experience that is a very different starting point than when you try and set this up with your average FMCG brand for instance
  • NOT from the U.S.: Ford, Starbucks, … great brands moving the needle in social and proving that it makes a difference for the whole business. With someone like Scott Monty at Ford, they are able to test and build social web experiences and applications, monitor etc but don’t forget that most of the learnings from this only work for a market as big as the U.S. The team, the tools, the costs, … for a market in one main language and with something like 300 M people is quite different from any market in Europe for instance. And a Pan-European approach might have the same scale but also that still requires a pretty different approach. There is no Europe basically ;)
  • NOT from a social media company: Social Media Examiner, Hubspot, … their business is in social media, it would be kind of sad if they didn’t know how to make it work for themselves right?
  • NOT from an indivitual or a 2 person company: There are obviously plenty of examples around like this – Choqoa from a friend of mine is a great example of a case like this. But it’s different when the business is basically yours and when you’re passionate about social media and understands how things work versus getting things organized in your regular mid-sized or big companies. You just have to start, you’re convinced and there’s no-one else around, no steering committees or anything like that. And that makes a huge difference.
  • NOT initiated by a negative experience: DELL Hell, Kryptonite, … we’ve all seen and heard of these examples plenty of times. And it’s great to see the turnaround DELL did after all the negative buzz they got at the start. But when I want to show people the opportunity that is social media, not why it’s a good tool to set up your defense systems.
  • NOT just a link or a screenshot: Last but not least, it’s great to get a link of a nice example but I’m really looking for cases so I’d like to see more information, data or at least people’s opinions around why this is a good or a bad case.

So don’t get me wrong. We’ve probably all learned certain lessons from some of the examples mentioned above and we should have. But on a day to day basis I cannot use much of the learnings I ‘ve got from these examples given the nature of those cases versus the situations I think many of us are dealing with on a daily basis.

So if you know a good case that is none of the above, please let me know. And share my request with your friends if that’s not too much to ask ;)

Photo by Andy Ciordia

Euroblog 2008

This last Thursday and Friday I attended and participated in the Euroblog 2008 event in Brussels organized by Euprera – the European PR Education and Research Association. The symposium was very much an academic event with a lot of academic speakers and attendees, and less practioners (at least that’s how I experienced it).

That wasn’t a surprise though, as the event was clearly set up to try and have the academia embrace the need to change. Still, sometimes, I felt like I didn’t belong there. Now I don’t mean anything bad with this, there’s just a very clear gap between the way we all approach things. It made me think of trying/testing out the water in a swimming tool. If you’re a practioner like myself you will get ready for the pool, put your toe in to get an idea of the temperature, probably feel like it’s colder than you would have wanted it to be but you’ll get in the water anyway and start swimming. You’ll talk to other people in the pool, maybe about the water, or maybe about that new glide which you then try out as well. This is the way me (and other people) started their blog, signed up for Twitter, Friendfeed, etc etc. After the presentations from the academia, it became clear that they approach ‘the pool’ in a different way. They talk to people outside and next to the pool about the temperature of the water, use a whole bunch of metric equipment to test the water conditions, relate all that info to ideal human body conditions, etc etc (this still fully dressed of course) to work out a project trajectory to get into the water at some point in time.

And I know this analogy is a bit black&white, but I think you get my point. On Friday I sat on a panel myself that was a mixture between academia and practitioners and there the difference was less visible (on the panel itself). The discussion itself with the panel and audience was pretty interesting to me as well. It highlighted once more some of the fears but also strengthened the idea that there aren’t enough case studies to go by.  At one point I feel this is just another ‘reason’ to keep away of change as long as one can. But as you (might) know from an earlier post I do feel we have to reach out more to get more people embrace the need to change so maybe we should just see what we can do about it – there really is more than just Kryptonite you know ;)

Don’t get me wrong, I did like the event. Some discussions where pretty interesting, some presentations like the one’s of David Jennings and Martin Oetting where very enjoyable and it was very good meeting up with the Edelman Digital crew: Steve Rubel, Marshall Manson, Rick Murray, … but also David Weinberger or Neville Hobson, the latter whom I met in person for the first time after being in several online conversations before.